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Condition Red

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Sep 30, 2005

The New York Times's Laurie Goodstein is reporting that leaders of U.S. men's religious orders plan to travel to Rome to protest the Doomsday Doc:

Responding to reports that the Vatican may be close to releasing a directive to exclude most gay candidates from entering the priesthood, leaders of Roman Catholic men's religious orders in the United States are planning to travel to Rome to voice their objections in person. The trip is one of the steps by leaders of Catholic religious orders to try to reassure priests and seminarians who have been rattled by news of a possible Vatican ban on the ordination of gay men.

The disputed document has not yet been released, so everyone --including your Uncle Di -- is reacting to surmises based on press reports and the 20th chapter of Leviticus (issued only a couple millennia ago and yet to be digested by the Conference of Major Superiors of Men). The letters of two Jesuit provincials are quoted by the NYT, the superiors of the provinces of New York and Oregon:

The provincial of the New York province of Jesuits, the Rev. Gerald J. Chojnacki, also sent a letter to his priests on Monday denouncing any move to exclude homosexuals. "We know that God does not discriminate," Father Chojnacki wrote. "We know that gay men who have responded to the call have served the church well as priests and religious -- and so why would we be asked to discriminate based on orientation alone against those whom God has called and invited?"

He wrote that he had participated in the funerals of "some very fine and distinguished Jesuits" who were also gay men. "I find it insulting to demean their memory and their years of service by even hinting that they were unfit for priesthood because of their sexual orientation," wrote Father Chojnacki, who leads one of the largest Jesuit provinces in the country, with 437 men.

Father Chojnacki forbears to mention by name any of the "very fine and distinguished Jesuits" who were gay, so we're not in a position to examine the evidence and make our judgment of the matter. All the more curious, then, that he claims the presumed directive would "demean their memory." If I don't know whom we're talking about, how can I attach a memory to them, demeaning or otherwise? If you won't show me your poker hand -- fine, you're under no obligation to do so. But then you can't complain when my pair of treys scoops the kitty. By the same token, if Staten Island's most distinguished priest-theologian was a necrophile (by orientation rather than lifestyle, let us say), yet did not see fit to advertise this fact, we do not demean his memory by contending that necrophiles are unfit for priesthood.

Maybe the folks in Rome can explain it to them.

Postscript: apart from his misguided contention that, for Mediterraneans, No means Maybe, John Allen has some very judicious remarks on the Doomsday Doc in this week's NCR.

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